Sunday, February 24, 2013

Love is in the air... spinach, gruyère and ham quiche

We celebrated our postponed Valentine's Day yesterday by... well, basically eating a lot and sitting around.  It was wonderful.  After starting the day with some Homemade Granola, we enjoyed this wonderful quiche for lunch.  It was my first quiche ever and I am very proud of the results! I guess it is hard to go wrong with homemade pie crust, eggs and cream involved.  For dinner, we had a braised chicken and chickpea stew that was also awesome.

We enjoyed it with a mimosa and a simple arugala, pear and dried cranberry salad.

It was creamy and dreamy and a very lovely way to spend our "Valentine's Day."

By the way, check out the absolutely beautiful earring holder Brandon made me this year -- it is a piece of mesh screen that he stretched onto an old window frame I absolutely love it.  It is awesome.  He is a wonderful husband.

The animals were also in a loving mood yesterday... they hung out with us by the fire after lunch...

What a pair...

Sasha gets a Lupa kiss!

Betsi also was her cute self and enjoyed the fire.

Anyway, back to the quiche.  This recipe was sooo good.  We are eating it again for lunch todayIt seems like a very adaptable recipe that you could put any number of fillings in with wonderful results.  The crust and custard are easy enough.  Here's how you make it.

For the crust, I halved a simple butter crust recipe.  I incorporated the butter by hand, rather than in a food processor, to get a flaky dough.

Pate Brisee
(for 1 9 inch tart)

6 oz all purpose flour
small pinch salt
1 stick very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1-3 oz. ice water 

Whisk flour and salt.  Add cold butter.  Using fingers or two butter knives, cut butter into dough so dough resembles coarse meal and chunks of butter are no larger than pea-size.

Add ice water slowly and mix until moist crumbs form.

Turn dough onto surface and form into a disc, about 5 to 6 inches in diameter.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

To pre-bake tart crust, set oven to 400 degrees F.   Place chilled dough on floured work surface (use a marble surface if possible) and roll out into a 1/8 inch thick round, 2 inches larger than pan.

Very gently, fold dough into quarters, place in tart pan, and gently unfold (or partly roll onto rolling pin and unroll into pan).

Lifting edges, ease dough into pan, flattening along bottom of pan, and pressing dough up sides.

Use rolling pin and roll over top of pan to cut off excess dough.  Press around sides so they stand about 1/8 of an inch above metal pan.

Use dull edge of knife to decorate edges of dough.  Poke bottom of crust all over with a fork.

Line shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans.

Bake 10 minutes.  Remove foil and beans and bake for 3-4 minutes more.   Reduce oven temperature to 350 and chill crust on rack while you prepare quiche filling.

Quiche Filling Ingredients

1 Tbs. butter
1 small shallot, diced + 1 leek (white part only),  thinly sliced.
Most of 1/2 lb. bag of baby spinach
1 cup (4 oz) grated Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup or so of ham, thinly sliced (optional)
4 eggs
approximately 1 cup half-and-half
pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and leeks and saute until tender, about 4-5 minutes.

Add spinach and cook until wilted.

Transfer spinach to a colander and press excess liquid from spinach.  Put bre-baked pie crust on a baking sheet.  Arrange spinach mixture in even layer in bre-baked pie crust.

Top with grated Gruyère and sliced ham.

In 2 cup measuring cup, lightly beat 4 large eggs.  Add half and half so mixture measures about 1 1/2 cups.  Add pinch nutmeg and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Pour custard mixture over filling, being careful not to overfill.

Bake quiche on baking sheet at 350 degrees F for 55-60 minutes, until filling is completely set in center and top is golden.  Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving. 

Slice and enjoy!

Oh and I must share just a couple more sleepy Lupa pictures before I go... she is the cutest thing alive...

-- Anya

Homemade Granola

I have been in the habit of making my own granola lately -- I like it because you can customize it, it is really affordable compared to buying your own, and perhaps best of all, you can't read the calories on it!... it is actually calorie-free I think... :-)  also it's fun to make.  This is a good recipe from Bon Appetit a couple months back... I made a few changes (see notes)

3 cups rolled oats
1.5 cups assorted chopped nuts (Anya: I used 1 cup)
1.5 cups shaved coconut (Anya: I used 1 cup... you could also use grated coconut but the slivers are nice -- you can get them in the bulk section at some supermarkets)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil or coconut oil (I used coconut oil)
1/4 cup agave syrup, maple syrup or honey (I used honey)
2 Tbs brown sugar
(Anya: I added 1 tsp vanilla extract)
Assorted dried fruit such as raisins, golden raisins, cranberries, or cherries.

Combine oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon, and salt.  Add beaten egg white and stir well.  In small pan, put oil, honey (or other sweetener), brown sugar, and stir over low heat until combined.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, if using.  Pour over dry ingredients, mix well with wooden spoon.  Spread granola evenly on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 325, stirring every 10 minutes, for 35-45 minutes, until golden.  Remove from heat and place tray on a cooling rack.  The granola will crunch up and form clumps as it cools.  Spinkle with dried berries.  Serve with milk or over greek yogurt.  Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


-- Anya